Hallmarks of Service Learning
The Honors College of South Carolina is located in the middle of Columbia, a thriving capital city where volunteer opportunities abound.
Service learning is one of the most rewarding things Honors Students have the opportunity to do, and there are a number of ways to use a service learning experience to fulfill our Beyond the Classroom requirement. One of our goals is for each student to leave the Honors College with a desire to give back and to help in ways that highlight their talents.
- Integrated Learning: A clear link exists between the community service and the academic content.
- High Quality Service: Projects are meaningful, well organized and address a community-identified need.
- Collaboration: Students, faculty and community partners all play an integral role in the planning and implementation of the project.
- Civic Responsibility: Projects promote student responsibility for community well-being.
- Reflection: Structured time or assignments allow students to analyze the experience and course connections.
- Evaluation & Assessment: Students, faculty and community partners participate in evaluating the project or
Service Learning Opportunities
You'll be able to choose from a wide variety of service learning opportunities or develop your own. Some students choose to help members of the Columbia community in specific, hands-on ways, while others prefer to raise funds for non-profits or do research that will benefit people and communities in need.
Many students gravitate toward service work that complements their program of study. Here are a few projects available to current students.
Communities in Harmony
Members of Communities in Harmony are focused on making a positive musical experience for the children they visit each week. This organization began as a South Carolina Honors College outreach initiative striving to use music as a tool to enrich the lives of the people they work with. In order to do this, members collaboratively plan every session. They share songs, dances and musical games to take to the various afterschool programs that they partner with each semester. The adaptive, cooperative and personal skills developed have shaped the members into sensitive, perceptive volunteers. Each session has a designated leader who guides the day’s activities. Typically, these leaders are the volunteers with the most experience, but the opportunity is open to anyone who desires to develop those skills. The volunteers gather for planning retreats, monthly meetings, and weekly volunteer sessions. Communities in Harmony won student organization of the year in 2014 and has been awarded funds from the Hootie and the Blowfish Grant for their initiatives.
Waverly Afterschool Programs
Waverly Afterschool Programs was started in 2003 by a motivated group of Honors College students who learned of a local need for afterschool tutors during a Martin Luther King Day of Service. Since then, Waverly has become a student organization and has been awarded a lifetime grant of $10,000 by State Farm Insurance. Their mission is to enhance the lives and opportunities of children in the Columbia community, to serve as educational role models who provide a fun, safe and caring experience, to develop the self-esteem and literacy skills of all children who participate, and to help children realize that they can overcome life's challenges. Waverly members believe that all children need a safe place to go after school each day with caring, responsible adults and programs that encourage both learning and personal growth. Waverly Afterschool Programs has four core functions: 1) To provide educational enrichment 2) To promote continued educational excellence 3) To provide youth with positive role models, and 4) To develop student volunteers into leaders.
Project VIDA is a student organization at the University of South Carolina that welcomes students from a variety of backgrounds. Members of Project VIDA create presentations about healthy living for elementary, middle, and high school populations in underprivileged communities. It started through an Honors College initiative (Drop Everything And Lead) and has been supported by the Bernard and Arline Ramsdale Endowment Fund. Since its creation in fall 2010, Project Vida has been committed to educating youth in the Columbia community about healthy living. Volunteers in Project Vida have learned to seamlessly translate their academic passions into interactive and fun presentations for the young people they work with. This organization has given students the opportunity to use their classroom experiences to impact the lives of community members, while receiving personal, professional, and civic growth. One Project Vida member stated, “Even though we are the ones providing the information on health, I never fail to learn new things with each presentation.” The students in Project Vida have truly become a part of the community that they serve. Project VIDA won the Outstanding Student Organization Service Award in 2014.
Carolina Homelessness Outreach
The Carolina Homelessness Outreach brings together students of the University of South Carolina who have a common interest in serving the homeless around Columbia. Members participate in excursions to various venues focused on helping the homeless, reflect upon experiences, and advocate for the importance of seeing beyond stereotypes in order to care for homeless people as fellow human beings. Volunteers with the organization hope to make positive differences in the lives of homeless individuals, to grow in fulfillment and understanding of themselves, to develop positive relationships with other community outreach programs, and to increase awareness of homelessness and help foster a positive community attitude. The organization was started by a student after completing Dr. Bret Kloos’ Honors College service learning class, Addressing Homelessness in South Carolina.
Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter
Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter provides a safe and nurturing environment for abused and neglected children and unaccompanied teens, offering them a broad range of services concentrating on personal healing and development. The shelter is open 24 hours each day of the year and provides medical and mental health care, crisis adjustment/transitional counseling, after-school tutoring and recreational and social activities in addition to food, clothing and shelter. The South Carolina Honors College has a unique partnership with Palmetto Place that allows faculty, staff, and students to participate in various volunteer opportunities, fundraising efforts, and donation drives. In the past, the Honors College has sponsored and attended trips to the South Carolina State Fair, Mad Platter, and college visits and tours with the children at the shelter. In addition, the Honors College has hosted musical concerts for Palmetto Place, fall festivals, Valentine's Day celebrations and a Redress to Impress event that provided prom dresses for teens at the shelter.